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It Took a Pandemic To Explore My City

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A group of city goers fishing along the riverside. (Sam Tucker/The Collegiate)

By Sam Tucker

As we begin to see our world open back up, it makes me think of when it was closing down. Movie theatres, bowling alleys, restaurants, and any other weekend activity seemed to evaporate before my eyes. With the norm out the window, boredom set in. A time-soup began to simmer, as days were melting into the next, I needed something new. Then I started walking around downtown Grand Rapids, camera in hand.

At first, it felt odd. I just thought senior citizens and our parents were the only ones who “walked” around. What could be so pleasant about dragging your feet through the city? Exercise wasn’t a foreign concept, but this type of it was. It was surprisingly so much better than sitting in my room, letting Zoom calls suck my soul away.

A skater in a loading dock downtown. (Sam Tucker/The Collegiate)

After going out on some maiden voyages on my own, I soon realized I need some company. Slowly but surely, as my friends and I continued to see uneventful weekend after weekend, our walks around the downtown area quickly became our go-to activity. Living in the environment of Zoom calls and lockdowns, the fresh air, and the change of scenery were welcome.

Soon, I realized that seeing sunshine out the window in the morning set a course for my day, whereas before I’d be doing things inside anyway so what would I care? 

Walking the city streets gave me a connection to Grand Rapids that I had never felt before. It’s my city. This connection and feeling of place, even if it’s masked mumbled conversations with the fisherman along Sixth Street Park, or the skaters at Monroe Park, it gave me a connection that I’d been missing for a while. The Collegiate Staffundefinedundefined

With the absence of in-person classes, and the warming up to the idea of school and work from home, I missed the interaction and sense of community that I’d get in the bustling halls of RJF. But going out and exploring the places around me brought me back to the uniqueness of daily life. Once I removed myself from the controlled laboratory environment of my house, the variables of life worked their way into the equation. Suddenly the perpetual feeling of “time-soup” began to go away as I met new people and saw new things.

“Love, Live, Be Free” (Sam Tucker/The Collegiate)

Returning to the “normal” weekly flow of things like getting out of the house, experiencing new things, and meeting new people, gave me a slight sense of normality. It showed me that bumps in the road do come, we just have to adapt and change to make the impact a little more bearable. The best thing about this adaptation is that it’s free, open to anyone. You don’t need to pay for a ticket or even wait in line. Just go out. And walk. You might be surprised by what you find.